Don’t waste time on Christmas romances


Holly Shively Headshot

By Holly Shively and By Holly Shively

Christmas movies, along with the snow, hit us full force like a brick wall this year. But in all honesty, are they really worth the watch?

The short answer: no, not really. As you’ve probably already guessed, I’m going to lay out the long answer for you too.

I have every sappy bone in my body, but I still find it hard to get behind Christmas romances. Most of the time, they’re poorly made. Even when the actors aren’t bad, they’ve all got some kind of cheesy vibe that keeps you from fully immersing yourself into the story. Just about every story follows one of three formulas that move at unrealistic paces.

I’m sure you’ve all recognized it. First we’re introduced to a hard-working woman, one who may be a nobody waiting for her break or one who’s already made it big, working in some massive city and making a ton of money.

Either way, one formula takes this hardworking woman, who is far too busy to look for love, and puts her in the path of a man she instantly dislikes. Later, she’ll meet the man again, but this time, it’s for work. The two are forced to spend time together and end up falling madly in love after realizing their first impressions were wrong.

Yesterday I watched Netflix’s attempt at a sappy Christmas romance—”A Christmas Prince.” In the movie, Amber (Rose McIver) attempts to get her big break in New York City journalism by traveling to Aldovia over Christmas to get the scoop on a scumbag prince taking the throne.

When she gets there, she unknowingly meets (and hates) the prince the first time when he steals her cab at the airport. When she gets to the palace and finds out the prince isn’t talking to the press, she poses as the tutor to the prince’s much younger sister to get the insider scoop. She knows she can’t return home with nothing, or she’ll never make it as a journalist.

Throughout the hour and half run time, viewers find out the prince isn’t so terrible (how predictable) and the two main characters fall head over heels for each other (big surprise). The two become engaged after just a few weeks of knowing each other, and Amber will soon become queen.

Sounds like every other Christmas movie you’ve ever seen? If not, here’s another formula for you.

Formula two exists when the “nobody” hard worker finds a rich hero whom she feels unworthy to in comparison. Despite the hero’s wealth and high social status, he falls for the girl and steals her away from her service job.

The final formula takes the big-time, city-going designer or marketing executive to her tiny hometown for the holidays. She meets either her high school sweetheart, the boy she never looked at twice or her biggest crush from back in the day. He happens to be some kind of rancher or in another occupation that requires him to stay in the small town his whole life, which he prefers over the big city. The heroine somehow falls in love with him anyway and also finds a renewed passion for her simple, small-town life.

What do we expect, though, when Hollywood releases dozens of new Christmas movies every year because the market for them is so large? There may be more than one way to skin a cat (or one way to make a Christmas romance), but there are still only so many ways (in this case, about three formulas).

We recognize that every one of these movies is going to follow some typical equation, yet for some reason, we watch them, anyway. It’s really such a waste of our time when we can be watching other Christmas movies with original plots.

Here’s what is worth the watch: the Christmas comedy. I can sit for hours and watch “Elf,” “Christmas with the Kranks,” “Home Alone” and all the “Santa Clause” movies starring Tim Allen. In all reality, most of them present relationships that do a better job depicting real romance than the movies that specifically focus on sappy love stories.